85 Years of the Kit Kat Clock

It’s a largely forgotten piece of Americana, but at one time, it seemed that nearly every household in America had a Kit Kat clock hanging on the wall, usually in the kitchen.

Then, for a time, it seemed that you couldn’t go into a thrift store without finding one for sale, priced at a dollar or so.

It turns out that the Kit Kat clock has never really gone away, and the Kit Kat clock is now 85 years old.

original kit kat clock

A rare example of an original Kit Kat clock. Note the missing bow tie.

The Kit Kat clock was designed by the late Earl Arnault, who built the clock in Portland, Oregon through the Allied Clock Company starting in 1932.  Original models were made of metal, and those are quite rare and are rarely seen today, as the company soon switched to plastic, which was easier to work with and less expensive.

The first-generation Kit Kat clock was a bit different from more modern designs, as the cat lacked the distinctive bow tie and had a simpler clock face and less pronounced paws.

That changed in the mid 1940s, when the design was changed to the version that everyone knows.

The Kit Kat clock sold well throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and in 1962, the company moved to California and changed its name to the California Clock Company.  Production continued into the 1980s, though by the late 1970s, sales had dropped off.  Interest in the clocks had waned, as the image seemed a bit dated, and pretty much everyone who wanted a Kit Kat clock already had one.

The company’s motor supplier was no longer making electric motors that were suitable for the Kit Kat clock, and the clock went out of production for a while as the company pursued battery technology.

In the 1990s, a redesigned Kit Kat clock came to market, this time powered by batteries.  The company is still producing them today, and they’re now available in a wide variety of designs and styles.

kit kat clock

A newer example of the Kit Kat clock, complete with the bow tie.

While the Kit Kat clock is the best known of the clocks to come from Allied, they produced other clocks as well, including one that looked like a poodle.  There were also some variations on the basic Kit Kat clock even back in the 1950s, with a few colored models made that are now fairly rare.

Original models of the Kit Kat clock are now quite collectible, and buyers who are interested in an older, AC-powered model should be prepared to spend several hundred dollars to find one that is in good working condition and complete.  One of the problems with buying a vintage Kit Kat clock is that the detachable tail is almost always missing.

Be prepared to pay quite a bit extra if you want a vintage Kit Kat clock that includes the original box.  Most of them were discarded at the time of their original purchase, so vintage boxes are rare.

If you’re interested in owning a current model, they are available in a wide variety of styles and colors, along with a few limited edition models through the manufacturer.

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